The following is an exclusive sneak peak inside The Mermaid in the Gherkin Jar, here Christopher meets Azalea for the first time.
As he held the jar, something began to happen. It began to shake and tremor gently at first, but then with increasing vigour, until it became quite an effort to hold it still. The contents swirled and the gherkins shot round on the inside of the glass as if they were being stirred by a large spoon. The jar gave one final jolt and out flew a bolt of green and gold which landed in the water with a sploosh, sending fresh ripples racing out in all directions. Christopher was given such a shock, he nearly fell into the water too. Steadying himself, he peered inside the jar. She was gone. Looking out over the pond, he strained to find any sign of movement, but the mermaid was nowhere to be seen. However, no sooner had the ripples faded, the surface broke once more and up popped a head, coughing and spluttering.
“Ugh! Yuck!” cried the creature in a tiny voice, wrinkling up her nose and taking great gulps of water, before spitting it back out again. “Of all the, vile, revolting…” She shook herself repeatedly, pulling the most comical faces between coughing fits. “How anyone can eat such disgusting things is beyond me!” Her disgust soon turned to a look of dismay. Running her fingers through her glistening locks, she yelped.
“Oh no, my hair!” she exclaimed, examining it closely. “All matted and straggly like a tangled mess of sea weed… and look!” she screamed. “My skin. It’s as rough as a barnacle!”
The creature gabbled on, ignoring Christopher entirely. She checked every aspect of her body – her hands, arms, face, ears and every time, her cries of horror grew louder.
“My poor fingers,” she said pitifully, “so wrinkly and tough, like the flesh of a walrus! And oh, my complexion!” she moaned, as she stared at her reflection in the water. “I look so pale and wretched.”
Christopher watched this display in complete awe. He could hardly believe his eyes. It was only when she stuck out her tongue to examine it, that he began to giggle. In an instant, the creature span round angrily and met his gaze.
“What are you laughing at?” the mermaid demanded. “Don’t look at me. I’m hideous!”
Christopher did his best to look away, but it was very difficult. She was not hideous at all. On the contrary, she was more beautiful than he could ever have imagined. Her hair was not matted. It gleamed brilliantly over her glistening shoulders. Her skin, far from being rough, was smooth and without a single blemish.
“You’re a mermaid!” exclaimed Christopher, beaming from ear to ear.
“Well, of course I am!” said the mermaid haughtily. “And I told you not to look.”
“But I thought mermaids were made up.”
“Well, as you can see, I am quite real.”
Read more of “The Mermaid in the Gherkin Jar” now to find out what happens to Christopher and the beautiful mermaid Azalea.